A High Court judge has authorised the withdrawal of treatment for a 72-year-old woman in a minimally conscious state after our client's and her family's appeal.
Since November 2016, Marie (not her real name) has been receiving treatment on a high-dependency hospital ward where she has been fed through a tube in her nose. One of her daughters asked us to support her in an appeal to the Court to approve ending Marie’s treatment, replacing it with palliative hospice care.
Marie’s daughters and partner asked the Judge to decide if doctors could stop treatment that was prolonging her life without any hope of a recovery.
The case was complicated as Marie’s sisters thought that treatment was still in her best interests.
Marie received treatment in the north of England after suffering a fall in November 2016. She experienced headaches and, shortly before she fell into her current state, a CT scan revealed she had an aneurysm.
At the Court of Protection in Preston, Mr Justice Hayden ruled that treatment could now be stopped after hearing evidence from medical experts, her sisters, children and her partner.
Mathieu Culverhouse, a specialist Court of Protection lawyer at Irwin Mitchell represented one of Marie’s daughters. He said:
“In these highly sensitive cases the court’s task is to review all the available evidence in order to make a decision that’s in the individual’s best interests. In particular, the evidence of those who were closest to the person concerned helps give the court a clear view as to who the person is and what they would want.
"The judge decided that withdrawing life sustaining treatment is in my client’s mother’s best interests given her current quality of life and her previously expressed wishes and feelings.
“While the court has dealt with this case very sensitively, my client and her sister hope that, in future, a different way can be found to resolve such cases so that other families do not have to go through the same ordeal.”
During the hearing, one of Marie’s daughters told the court that she believed her mum had ‘gone.’ She described her mother as a ‘force to be reckoned with’ before her fall, saying “she wasn’t frightened to stand up and say what she thought.”
The court also heard that Marie had supported her late husband’s decision to stop receiving medical treatment.
Her daughter spoke about this decision in court, saying: “My mum was 100% behind my dad’s decision. She was full of admiration for his courage in doing what he did and sat with him for three days while he died. With that history, I don’t think we could see more clearly what to do now.
“We’ve heard a lot about the patient, but that isn’t my mum. It’s really important that my mum is brought into these proceedings as much as possible.”
Arrangements will now be made for treatment to be withdrawn in line with national clinical guidelines.
In 2015, Mr Justice Hayden was involved in a landmark ruling when he ruled in favour of a woman, also represented by our team, who wished to withdraw treatment being received by a 68-year-old woman who was at the end stages of multiple sclerosis.
This was the first time a decision had been made to withdraw life sustaining treatment from a person in a minimally conscious state.
If you’re experiencing issues similar to those covered in this article, you can contact our specialist Court of Protection solicitors for a free consultation on 0370 1500 100 or contact us online and we’ll call you back.
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